What Is Record Keeping in Ancient Times?

Record keeping is the process of storing information in a systematic and organized way. It has been a crucial part of human civilization for centuries.

Even in ancient times, people recognized the importance of record keeping. The methods they used were primitive compared to today’s digital storage systems, but they were effective in their own way.

Clay Tablets

One of the earliest forms of record keeping was through clay tablets. This method was prevalent in ancient Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) around 4000 BCE. Scribes would use a stylus to inscribe symbols and numbers onto wet clay tablets, which were then baked to create a permanent record.


In ancient Egypt, record keeping was done through hieroglyphics – a system of writing that used pictures and symbols instead of letters. Hieroglyphics were used to record everything from business transactions to religious texts. They were often inscribed on papyrus scrolls or carved into stone tablets.

Parchment and Ink

Parchment is a material made from animal skin that was commonly used for writing in ancient times. Parchment sheets were often folded and bound together to create books or manuscripts. Scribes would use ink made from various materials like carbon black or iron gall to write on parchment.


The Inca civilization in South America used quipu – a system of colored strings with knots tied at different intervals – for record keeping. The knots represented different numbers and information, such as agricultural yields or census data.


Record keeping has come a long way since ancient times, but the basic principles remain the same – storing information in an organized and accessible manner. These primitive methods may seem crude by today’s standards, but they laid the foundation for modern record-keeping practices.

So, next time you’re organizing your digital files or writing notes on paper, remember that you’re following in the footsteps of the ancient scribes and record keepers who came before us.